Thursday, May 12, 2016


Dear Readers,

Sunday Times: Impressed with an article that took up almost a whole page in the May 8 edition I decided to compliment the author Mike Behr.

Headlined Oxford scholar’s snub ‘last straw’ for waitress it was about the  R145 000 ‘tip’ raised on social media for White, Cape Town, cafĂ© waitress Ashleigh Schultz after she was humiliated to tears by Ntokozo Qwabe, a Black, Oxford Rhodes Scholar.

He bragged on Facebook that instead of tipping her he had written on the bill: “We will give tip when you return the land.”  This was a reference to the Blacks’ belief that the Whites had taken all the best land when the all White, apartheid South African Government was in power.

His snide remark backfired when the online collection raised more money for Ashleigh than she would be able to earn for years working as a waitress. Aged 24 Ashleigh was two when the White Government was replaced with a Black one so that’s how absurd Qwabe’s demand was.

Unlike some of the reports in the Sunday Times Behr’s article did not have his email address at the bottom so I phoned the News Desk in Johannesburg and asked the woman who answered for his contact details. The conversation then went like this:
          “Who is Mike Behr?”
          “He wrote almost an entire page of your paper this week.” (The staff on the News Desk, the hub of the paper’s news gathering, should surely know who their current writers are).
          “Oh he must be a freelance. Hang on a minute. 
          You must phone our Cape Town office."               
So I did and there Denise Nelson gave me his cell phone number. She added she only knew him as a freelance photographer and didn’t have an email address for him.

When I phoned Behr I almost also got a snub as well.You would have thought I was chasing him for something like debt or an outstanding parking ticket because he seemed so angry.
          “I’m phoning about that article you wrote in the Sunday Times about the waitress,” I told him.
          “Who are you?” he demanded. So I gave him my name.
          “Who gave you my number?” he snapped back.
          “The Cape Town office.”
          “Well they shouldn’t have.”
I was trying to do the opposite of what that Rhodes Scholar had in mind by praising Behr. Don’t worry I’m not so upset by Behr’s reaction that it warrants another online collection.

He only mellowed when I told him I thought his report was excellent and that was why I had contacted him.

His off-hand behaviour was surprising considering he has written for newspapers and magazines for three decades, winning several awards in the process.

One thing is certain however it was definitely not a great advertisement for the paper that had just used him. 

Life Healthcare Hospital Group: My wife had been treated at their Kingsbury Hospital in Cape Town.

Shortly afterwards I received an email saying they had selected her to provide them with feedback about her experience.
          “Please click here to provide feedback,” it said.
So I clicked and got ….
          “Survey. Thank you for attempting to complete this survey, 
          unfortunately this survey cannot be found.”
It was just as well that it wasn’t a ruptured appendix that she had been in for.

So I phoned the hospital and asked to speak to Denis Scheuble, the Chief Operating Executive – Coastal, whose name appeared at the bottom of the email with no direct contact details.
          “Can I speak to Mr Denis Scheuble?” I said.
          “Is he a patient,” the woman on the switchboard replied (Top executives at big firms should make a point of ensuring that the staff below them, particular ones on switchboards, know who they are).

When I explained that he appeared to be one of their top executives she gave me the number of the Johannesburg head office where I finally got hold of him. He apologised saying:
          “We had some problems with this at the beginning of the year, but we thought we had sorted it out.”

I told him that my wife had been very happy with the service she got and the survey was back as it should have been a day later.

NMC Construction Group: It claims to “take pride in setting the construction standard” and at a site office next to a road it is building in Cape Town a notice says: “Safety induction is compulsory before entering this site. We trust that you will partner with us and comply with our safety standards.”

With all this emphasis on site “safety” it’s a pity this didn’t extend to the warning signs it put up on Kommetjie Road near the Masiphumelele township where its road works have been going on for what seems like forever.
View before the sign was moved (left) & afterwards (right)
One of these almost completely blocked the view motorists had of traffic coming from their right as they came out of the car park of the family business of Rodgers Fruiterers.  Michael, one of the owners, told me they had been trying for months to get the sign moved – ever since it was put up.
Front of the sign before it was moved
They got so desperate with the lack of action from the authorities that they even considered chopping the sign down, but abandoned this as they were worried they would get into trouble.

I don’t shop at Rodgers very often but after going there recently I realised that this huge sign, just a few meters from the entrance to their premises was an accident waiting to happen.

As one of the local ‘things must be right’ busy bodies I went to NMC’s office not far away and there the site engineer promised to have the sign moved to a safe position.

Low and behold that’s exactly what happened three working days later. But one still has to ask why the Cape Town City Roads and Traffic Departments don’t ensure that hazardous signs like this are not erected on our roads in the first place.
Let’s face it I can’t be everywhere.

   Jon, a Consumer Watchdog
   who is wagging his tail because
   he doesn't often get such quick results.                


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